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Almost every place I go, I intend to stay only a week. But it’s not natural for me. Somehow, I’m a nomad who loves to stay. A wanderer who values community. A vagabond who craves routine. I simultaneously dream of seeing the world while still feeling the pull to stop and connect. I miss the pieces of life spent around a kitchen, over a bottle of wine with old friends. I miss that particular privilege of being known and understood in the way only those who have known and understood you for a great while can. But perhaps that’s why I’ve paused in Corozal. I feel that community, that routine, that sense of normalcy and understanding over a bottle of wine. It doesn’t mean it’s easy, or that I don’t have hard days, like today, when I felt that deep awayness, that realization of how far removed I am from my old life, that distinct distance from those I love the most. But the feeling of finding your people, the world over… it can’t be replaced. It keeps me going, it keeps me moving, and sometimes, like now, it keeps me staying. 💚

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Ah Sarteneja — I took a day trip from Corozal today and it was lovely — until 15 minutes after arriving I accidentally plunged into sewage sink mud up to my thighs. What an experience! I know now what it is like to walk barefoot, covered in mud and smelling like a nest of rotten eggs, to the nearest building to beg for a shower. Thankfully, I managed to save my camera and backpack, and those who greeted me were gracious considering the circumstances. I showered for about an hour and a half, using an entire bar of soap — still not sure I’ll ever feel clean again. Afterward, I managed to see more of the village, which is truly lovely. Just watch out for sewage-y sink mud. Full digest of the unfortunate event is in my Instagram stories.

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The hilltops: Antigua’s less recognized gems

I was in Antigua, actively exploring, for two weeks before I discovered that Santo Domingo del Cerro (meaning Santo Domingo of the hill) even existed. 

Someone had off-handedly told me before I arrived that I should go to “the sculpture park.” After hearing nothing about it in town, after a few weeks I started searching online and found the location, although there was very little information and very few photos. Even Google Maps added to the confusion, suggesting it wasn’t possible to walk to the hilltop when I attempted to retrieve directions.

When I brought up the hilltop attraction to new friends that lived in the city — with the exception of my Airbnb host, who also worked as a tour guide —  I was met with vacant expressions. 

Santo Domingo del Cerro? What’s that? A couple people assumed I meant Cerro de la Cruz, the popular short hike up to an oft-Instagrammed lookout.

So upon making the ascent up one of the many hills that borders Antigua, I didn’t expect too much. A green lawn with a dozen or two sculptures, perhaps. And likely, a good view.

Instead, I was completely blown away by what ultimately became one of the highlights of my stay.